Potinet-Ampeau Monthelie 1er Cru 'Champs Fulliots' 2009
Monthelie is one of the great bargains in Burgundy. But be careful: there are two parts to Monthelie. With the exception of the first growth 'Les Duresses' (which is an extension of Auxey-Duresses' best parcel) in the west, most of the best vineyards are clustered on the border with Volnay to the east of the village. No surprise. But there really are some great undiscovered gems there. This Monthelie 1er Cru 'Champs-Fulliots' from the Domaine Potinet-Ampeau among them. Dense, generous, spicy fruit, both red and black, with good concentration and structure. And a very Volnay finish on violets!
Our earliest tastings of the 2009s were either of raw bubbling juice or, a bit later, from barrel samples that still had lots of gas in them. It's a rare vintage where winemakers will let you taste wines right after the alcoholic fermentation has finished. Wines at that stage tend to be all over the place, and only tolerant palates can cut through the mire. Last Fall however the winemakers were shoving a glass into your hand and leading a conga line through the cellars. Comparisons are being made to 2005, 1999 and even 1990, all great years; and all years where the wines were accessible right from the outset.
Vincent Rapet at Rapet Pere et Fils explained it best. All of these vintages (including the 2009) were reasonably hot growing seasons. Not so hot as to cook out acidity altogether; but hot enough that the plants started to absorb their fruit's acids. The acidity that goes first, the first to be absorbed, is malic acid. That’s the acid that usually gets transformed into lactic acid in the second, malo-lactic, fermentation. So if there’s not a lot of malic acid in the first place, the difference between the wine before and after malo is diminished, and sometimes hardly discernible. These wines are therefore charming, seemingly finished, right off the mark. What's crucial to a great vintage (in terms of balance, structure and longevity) is tartaric acid. And in 2009 (as in these other great vintages) we’re at just about ideal levels of tartaric. So as these wines were released in the bottle, we started drinking them young and lustily. Structure is not the word! Both Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from north to south sing with bright precise fruit.
In the whites, Chablis is honeysuckle and river rock. The whites from around the Corton mountain are suave, smoky and nutty. Further south, whites from the 'golden triangle' (Puligny, Chassagne and Meursault) are cut and distinct, and have classic balance; ideal for laying down, but juicy and charming in their youth.
The Pinots are mostly a beautiful deep, brilliant ruby. Impressive aromas of ripe red and black fruits are highlighted with spice. Complexity and depth are obvious even in youth. Good balance, round, silky tannins and rich finish.
COTE DE BEAUNE
Monthélie is situated between Volnay and Meursault, with one of the prettiest views in the Côte de Beaune. The vineyards form a horseshoe shape around the village, from the slopes leading down from Volnay and continuing into the Auxey-Duresses valley. For a small village with a population of fewer than 200, Monthélie produces a lot of wine: 65,000 bottles per year. And many of the village inhabitants are directly involved in that production.
Produced only in the commune of Monthélie appellation Monthélie includes 15 premiers crus.
Monthélie is nearly all red, and that red should be brilliant ruby. Cherry and blackcurrant fruit, and, in certain vineyards, a similar floral arrangement to Volnay (violets!) highlight the bouquet. As the wines evolve, they take on the typical Pinot Noir secondary aromas of undergrowth, leather and mushroom. Monthélie, on the Volnay side of the village, is fine and delicate like Volnay. And on the Auxey-Duresses side, the wines can be firmer with more obvious tannic structure.
As with nearly every village in this zone, the plantation of Chardonnay is on the rise in Monthélie, though it accounts for only 10% of the production today. These whites are often described as being similar to the wines of neighboring Meursault. That is true, though in terms of finesse, slightly exaggerated. You get lemony acidity, white flowers, sweet apple and nuttiness which when in balance make for a great value Chardonnay.
There are two distinct vineyards zones in appellation Monthélie. Some of the vines are on the Volnay side of the village facing south and south-east and planted on pebbly bathonien limestone with a top layer of red clay and marl. And some of the vines are on the Auxey-Duresses side where the rock is argovien limestone and exposures are easterly or westerly, depending on course of the Auxey valley. Altitudes are between 270-320 meters.
Nearly all reds - Pinot Noir
Whites - Chardonnay
Production surface area
1 hectare (ha) = 2.4 acres
Reds : 106.38 ha (including 34.31 ha premier cru)
Whites : 12.96 ha (including 1.69 ha premier cru)
The reds of Monthélie can be velvety but quite firm, with tannins that need roasted meats with a crunchiness: roast fowl (dark or white meat), roast lamb, or rabbit. These wines also go well with country pâtés. For cheese, go for creaminess Brillat-Savarin, Brie or Reblochon.
On the label, the appellations 'Monthélie' and 'Monthélie 1er Cru' may be followed by the name of a specific vineyard, known as a climat.
The followin climats are classified as premier cru: